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Ecuador church leader defends Mugabe’s honor: The Church of England Newspaper, October 1, 2012 October 2, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Politics, Zimbabwe.
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Dr. Walter Crespo, the head of the Anglican Church of Ecuador, has denied accusations that he supplied arms to Columbian FARC rebel groups, and defended his church’s recognition of Robert Mugabe as one of the key progressive anti-imperialist leaders on the world stage.

“[I] was, [am], and will remain a man of leftist political convictions” the controversial cleric told The Church of England Newspaper, adding that his “public recognition of the moral leadership of Dr. Mugabe as the legitimate President of Zimbabwe, and a worldwide leader is in perfect line with his historical trajectory.”

The fiery prelate added he “was not, is not, and will never be a puppet of political imperialism or of degenerated ‘official Anglicanism’ as it is practiced by ‘Lambeth’ and ‘815’.”  [815 is a slang expression for the US Episcopal Church, whose offices are located at 815 Second Avenue in New York City.]

Last month Dr. Crespo, joined by former Anglican bishops Nolbert Kunonga and Elson Jakazi, invited President Mugabe to Quito to receive an honorary Degree of Doctor of Civil Laws.  “The conferment of the honorary doctorate to the Head of State is in honour of and recognition of Comrade Mugabe’s outstanding leadership of not only Zimbabwe but of the rest of the world including Latin America,” the bishop said.

On Sept 26, President Robert Mugabe returned to Harare after attending the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.  The Zimbabwe strongman had been scheduled to travel to fly to Quito to pick up his honorary degree.

A government spokesman said “time constraints” had prevented President Mugabe from traveling to Quito.   Media, Information and Publicity Minister Webster Shamu said the president would be travelling to Mexico in December for the 17th Climate Change Convention and “will then fulfill that commitment.”

However, press reports detailing Dr. Crespo’s alleged ties to arms dealings, may have played a part in the postponing the ceremony, émigré Zimbabwean newspapers have reported.  SW Radio Africa news stated “it’s thought the revelations about Bishop Crespo’s shady life have diminished the propaganda value of the doctorate.”

The Anglican Diocese of Harare led by Bishop Chad Gandiya and the Church of the Province of Central Africa stated they too “dissociate themselves from any activities associated with Dr. Crespo and the ‘Anglican’ Province of Ecuador.”

The Diocese of Harare stated it was “not at all surprised by this apparent solidarity between Dr. Kunonga and Dr. Crespo, they are both rebels fighting for a nonexistent cause.”

Dr. Crespo told CEN his denomination was not tied to the US Episcopal Church or to the Anglican Communion, but was descended from a Church of England congregation established in Guayaquil in 1821, that in 1957 was incorporated as an independent denomination under Ecuadorian law.

The Ecuadorian bishop stated that he was a man of the left, and that his incarceration in 2001 and imprisonment for three years while awaiting trial for gun running had been engineered by right wing paramilitary groups tied to corrupt elements within the Ecuadorian and Colombian government.

Dr. Crespo stated his leftist credentials were beyond reproach.  He was first jailed at age 16 in 1966 by Ecuador’s military junta for his involvement with the High School Students National Federation (FESE) and in 1970 went into exile in Spain.

The bishop told CEN he was jailed a second time by the Franco regime while working as a school teacher.  And in 1998 was jailed a third time when he attempted to take his seat as an elected member of Ecuador’s National Assembly.

Ecuador’s anti-clerical laws forbad clergyman from holding civil office, and he was jailed for 231 days for contempt.  His jailing led to a revision of the country’s constitution, he said, that now permits clergymen to serve in government office.

The allegations that he was “involved in gun running were false,” he said, adding that in 2001 he was arrested “under dirty charges of supporting FARC.”

Far from being an ally of FARC, Bishop Crespo said, he and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Santo Domingo de los Colorados, a German national, were seeking “the freedom of several European citizens kidnapped by the Colombian insurgency.”

His involvement in hostage negotiations with FARC prompted the “conspiracy” by the head of the Colombian security services, Jorge Noguera, and the chief of the Ecuadoran police, which the bishop said led to his jailing and the expulsion of the Catholic bishop from Ecuador.

Jorge Noguera served as chief of the DAS (the Colombian Administrative Department of Security) from 2002 to 2006.  In 2007 he was accused of being a member of the AUC, a right-wing paramilitary group.  In 2008, Noguera was arrested and charged with murder and conspiracy for his AUC work while serving as chief of the security services.

Dr. Crespo told CEN he “defeated eight indictments, the last one issued on Dec. 24, 2009.”

“Where is Noguera now a days?  He is in jail in Colombia, arrested by his own accomplices,” the bishop said.